It happens, our schedules loosen up and our habits that are forced by usual hectic agendas fall to the wayside. It is not uncommon for any heath goals that have been implemented in the form of a healthy brown paper bagged lunch or a 5:00 AM workout squeezed in prior to starting the work or school day to be dropped. If you have put in the work to make lifestyle changes during the “bulk” of a season, it can be assumed that you would prefer not to revert back to your previous tendencies. Not to mention, our body’s routine processes thrive off of routine. For example, processes such as digestive hormones, insulin, blood glucose, sleep cycles, and cortisol are all impacted by what becomes our body’s norm.
While parents, students, and other individuals whose schedules lighten up seasonally can likely benefit mentally and physically from some form of a break; maintaining a routine over the summer can allow health goals to keep trending in the right direction. Let’s keep in mind that we can accomplish routine independently from a rigid schedule. We do not need militant schedules or spreadsheets with every fifteen minutes planned out. Simple planning with a general framework can still allow time for spontaneous summer fun!
Here are some ideas for creating a summer structure that will promote overall health, yet feel a welcome break from the usual grind:
I. Start with the beginning
If the weekends, holidays, and other times “off” have always been a free for all; start small with adding 2-3 tasks at the beginning of the day to set the tone. For example, maybe within 30 minutes of waking you choose to drink water and eat breakfast while you listen to your favorite podcast you normally do not have time for. Starting the day off with proper
hydration and fuel will support an efficient metabolism and keep your body systems running smoothly. Do this for 3-4 weeks, and soon enough it will cement as a habit.
II. Keep the routine realistic
Once you have your morning routine set, you can look at making other parts of the day structured. However, do not add new things until you have solidified initial attempts to form strong habits (potentially your morning routine). Your routine can be very simple and loose, with several
hours still unscheduled. This will allow for your healthy habits to lie between scheduled and unscheduled hours, without it seeming too demanding.
III. Spice Your dinner up!
Summer nights have their own glow with more hours of daylight. Take advantage of the extra hours and launch new rituals. Try to include all family members and set aside distractions (such as the phone) to keep everyone engag
ed and present. Ideas may include a rotating schedule of dinner menu and clean up. For dinners that kids are involved in planning a men
u, allow them to practice budgeting, finding ingredients in a grocery store, and doing prep work appropriate to age. If the household is just one member, implement theme nights and challenge your cooking skills!
IV. Take it outdoors
To further exploit longer days, move as many meals as possible outside. Studies sho
w that we are more likely to relax, and in turn slow down with our meals when we eat outside. As a result, cortisol levels can lower which has a positive correlation with enhanced digestion. Pack dinner up in a picnic or try eating on the porch!
V. Give your goals a makeover
Get realistic with yourself- how is your progress with the goals you set around a busier sched
ule? To dive even deeper, what does this relationship with those goals look like? Do you feel defeated, stagnant, or uninspired? It may be time to adjust goals to fit the root of what really makes you feel your best. For example, maybe you have had a goal to lose 10 pounds for the past year and you have not made the progress you would have liked. By adding other goals to focus on, such as making time for your favorite activity, or adding more foods into your diet that give you energy, you can remove what feels like a rut and feel more fulfilled.